MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - BP agreed to pay the largest criminal penalty in U.S. history.
The oil giant will pay a $4.5 billion settlement fines over the next five years to the government for the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill.
Three BP officials face criminal charges as well.
Local leaders are thrilled with this news. One environmental official said it's a clear signal that companies cannot be irresponsible with the environment.
However, this is just the beginning of possibly more fines and legal wrangling.
It's been more than two and a half years since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers and spewing oil across the Gulf Coast for months.
The two highest ranking supervisors from the oil rig have been charged with manslaughter and a former BP vice president has been charged with lying to federal investigators about how much oil was leaking into the Gulf.
If convicted, the BP vice president could face 10 years in prison, and the oil rig officials could each face decades in prison.
US Attorney General Eric Holder said, "This is an indication, perhaps vindication, that we have shown and the company has admitted that as a result of their actions. People died there unnecessarily."
While $4.5 billion sounds like a lot of money, the New York Times said in the third quarter of this year alone, BP earned a profit of $5.4 billion.
Regardless, local leaders are happy this step has been taken, but this settlement does not cover the billions in claims brought against BP by businesses and individuals.
Casi Callaway, the executive director of Mobile Baykeeper said, "There's still a lot of settlement to come, in particular, the environmental fines and what's gonna happen with the environmental impact they have created. So we don't have those numbers yet or that fine yet but we're looking to see what else is gonna come."
Former Alabama Governor Bob Riley said, "There are a lot of things that are going to be determined over the next year that's going to have monumental consequences to this whole region."
This settlement alone marks the largest criminal fine in US history, but BP still has more court cases to go.
A trial has been scheduled for February for claims made against BP by individuals, business owners, and the Gulf states.
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